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Smart technology is impacting human nutrition and eating habits
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WATCH: Tech is shaping consumer eating habits – how can manufacturers stay one step ahead?

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Brands are increasingly leveraging technology to deliver variety in food and beverage choices that meet consumer demands.

Consumers, too, have an ever-growing access to technology at their fingertips, with technical advances enabling them to leverage a wealth of data. With an increasing interest in hyper-personalization, smarter and more accurate technologies are facilitating insights around all aspects of personal health and nutrition. And these are informing the way consumers eat by helping them optimize their dining experiences and achieve their personal goals.

But what does this mean for food manufacturers, both today and as a tech-fueled future unfolds? How can they leverage opportunities in a data-hungry world?

“Turning the focus back onto consumers is key to establish how they are leveraging technology in their daily lives, and especially on how technology is influencing their eating habits,” says Vaughn DuBow, Sr. Direct Product Portfolio Marketing Director for Microbiome Solutions at ADM.

“Consumers are plugged into tech like never before. Wearable technology can track every aspect of their health, and they can access special dietary information 24/7 and create recipes that cater to specific tastes at the touch of a button. Today, the answer to ‘what’s for dinner?’ is – literally – ‘data’.”

WATCH: Vaughn DuBow shares his thoughts in the video below

The rise of smart health

Health is a key focus for consumers and one that drives decisions around what they eat and the supplements they take. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are continuing to drive wearable tech and apps that track all aspects of health and wellness, helping consumers glean personalized insights. The opportunities here are significant: 23% of US consumers regularly use a wearable tracker or app (up from 20% from 2021); 24% use an app to manage their weight; and 18% use an app to provide them with nutritional information.1

The next generation of wearable devices is poised to take real time insights to the next level with features that act directly on the body, helping to enhance performance in real time. Take as an example continuous glucose monitoring. Available over the counter from summer 2024, this provides data on how the body is reacting to food, allowing individuals to alter what they eat based on how their body responds to it.

“Consumers are ‘hacking’ the body to better understand and influence how it works. It’s seen as a worthwhile investment to proactively monitor health and potentially avoid costly medical expenses further down the line,” says DuBow.

By leveraging scientific insights, consumers can accommodate specific health conditions such as diabetes, heart health and microbiome needs, and nutritional requirements. Already available is AI-based food scanning technology, such as SnapCalorie, a ‘world first’ app that produces an accurate calorie count and nutritional breakdown from a photograph of a meal.

Tech at the table: Smarter bites

Tech is radiating through personalized shopping and meal planning, too, with brands and retailers offering tech-based innovations, such as QR codes and apps, to drive personalized recommendations and provide nutritional details that influence shopping decisions. Is data sharing an issue, though? For many shoppers, the potential reward outweighs the risk: 76% of US consumers are willing to share at least some personal information with tech companies in exchange for benefits like personalization or savings; and among the 60% of US consumers who have used QR codes, 26% (over 40 million) have used them to discover more about the nutritional value of a food product.2

The tech behind home delivery services is also taking off as consumers tune into online stores that deliver personalized food solutions, such as meal kits tailored to specific dietary restrictions and nutritional goals, straight to their door. The market is substantial: in the three months from [month year] 30% of US consumers used an online meal kit or snack delivery service and 25% used an online prepared meal delivery service.3

Digital dining and personalized plates

In a world where food is more than fuel, consumers continue to seek engaging experiences with brands and restaurants. As a result, food experiences in and out of home are becoming ever-more digitalized, with social media a key resource. Along with the rise of smart appliances, designed to assist with shopping and cooking, 59% of US consumers have used tech to decide what to eat or find cooking inspiration, of which 39% use social media and video specifically, and 11% use TikTok.4

“As technology becomes further integrated into everyday activities, consumers no longer distinguish ‘real’ from digital life,” says ADM’s Dubow. “From social media to AI, we’re turning to tech to inspire creativity in the kitchen, address specific dietary requirements and reduce food waste – ultimately, it’s about enhancing our lives, both at home and when dining out.”

Out of home dining experiences are becoming similarly digitalized with VR and AR technologies (think menus linked by QR codes), and social media serves up a wealth of discoveries and ingredient details that help consumers enjoy a more immersive experience. Consumers often experiment with a variety of food-related tech options, learning what works for them and what doesn’t, combining or adjusting approaches as they move through their culinary journey. And from a nutritional standpoint, data shows 67% of US consumers use food as a remedy to treat or prevent a health condition; 41% use beverages.1

“Feedback from consumers’ own bodies about how they ‘feel’ physically and mentally is an essential source of information to evaluate how well an eating approach or diet is working,” says DuBow. “But if the sensory experience – we’re talking flavor, aroma, color and texture – fails to hit the mark, they will be less likely to commit to the approach.”

AI algorithms now provide consumers with personalized recommendations based on previous orders and eating approaches – keto, paleo, gluten-free, among others – and personal taste preferences ranging from bold or subtle flavors to specific textures, colors and aromas. Consumers are relishing the tailored approach. Almost three-quarters (71%) of global consumers believe that everyone is unique and therefore requires a variety of foods customized individual needs.5

Now, genetic analysis is taking it a step further, with the ‘DNA diet’ emerging as a hyper-personalization approach to meal and nutrition plans that are as unique as a fingerprint. And the consumer appetite is there: according to ADM proprietary insights, 51% of global consumers are open to DNA testing to generate personalized nutrition plans.5

A competitive edge in the culinary landscape

ADM provides a competitive edge in global innovation by delivering comprehensive solutions that address consumers’ digitally-driven food and beverage needs. Its global team of food scientists, flavorists, chefs and experts create full-formula, science-based nutritional products tailored for specific requirements and designed to help manufacturers always be one step ahead in nutrition.

From products to all-encompassing solutions that deliver strategic value, ADM has an in depth understanding of ingredients, evidenced by its extensive portfolio of food, beverage and supplement ingredients.

As the digital landscape continues to evolve, and technology becomes further embedded in consumers’ daily lives, innovating and getting to market faster is key. Partnering with ADM is the smart way to drive global capabilities and make a mark in the competitive food and beverage landscape.


1.​ THG H&W. 2023.
2. ​THG Food & Tech. 2023.
3.​ THG Food Sourcing in America. 2022.
4.​ THG Meals. 2021.
5.​ THG At the Dinning Table. 2021.

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